MIT is developing a robot named Domo, a humanoid-type machine which is an early version of what one day may be a ‘thinking’ mechanical assistive device. According to Aaron Edsinger, a post-doctoral associate at MIT, the focus is on
. . . making a robot that can function in a real human environment — in someone’s kitchen, for example. Robots that are designed to help people in their homes will have to be able to ignore the clutter found in most environments and focus only on certain stimuli . . .
Engineers are focusing on making Domo interactive with humans, and on giving it manipulation skills that will allow the robot to analyze items it handles so that Domo can use or place them correctly — and on honing the visual skills that will let Domo “see” necessary input, while disregarding extraneous objects within its visual field. In other words, skills humans use every day to perform basic tasks.
According to MIT, developing an assistive robot involves other challenges, too:
For Domo or any robot to safely interact with humans, the robot has to be able to sense when a human is touching it. Domo has springs in its arms, hands and neck that can sense force and respond to it. If you grab its hand and push, the robot will move the way you want it to.
Though Domo’s specific skills have potential corporate and manufacturing benefits, MIT sees a future when
Such assistive robots could be very useful in finding solutions to the impending health care crisis caused by the aging of the baby boomers, Edsinger said. Having help with simple tasks, such as getting a glass from a cabinet, could make a big difference for elderly or wheelchair-bound people.
Domo is intentionally techno-cute on the assumption that humans will identify with, and be more comfortable with, a robot with not just human abilities, but a humanoid aspect, too.
Further information from MIT at Assistive robot adapts to people, new places